- Publisher: Capcom, Microsoft Studios
- Developer: Capcom Vancouver
- Platforms: Xbox One (Reviewed), Microsoft Windows
- Playtime: 18 Hours
- Acquisition: Review Code Supplied By Publisher
The Dead Rising franchise has come a long way from the original that launched in 2006 on the Xbox 360. Since then, multiple iterations have been released which built upon what fans of the series adored. Challenging survival elements, horrifying bosses, and of course, one can’t forget a unique weapon arsenal to kill the massive hoards of the undead.
At this year’s Microsoft E3 Conference, Capcom revealed the next entry in the series, Dead Rising 4. This newest chapter in the franchise looked promising as it brought back series protagonist Frank West and the place that started it all: the Williamette Mall.
So how does this title stack up against its predecessors? Dead Rising 4 ends up being a game which could be polarizing for fans who have been with the franchise since the start.
The Living Legend Returns, Almost
Dead Rising 4 picks up sixteen years after the events of the original game. Since then, Frank West has gone through some major changes physically and mentally. Now a 52-year-old college professor teaching journalism photography, Frank has put his zombie slayer past behind him.
One of the most noticeable changes Frank has undergone is his new portrayal. Original actor TJ Rotolo has been replaced with Victor Nosslo who provides a different take on the reporter who covered wars. A few hours into Dead Rising 4 it becomes clear that this new depiction doesn’t feel like the old Frank West. The reporter fans remember has been replaced with something else which feels like a huge, and unnecessary, personality shift.
Return To Action
Dead Rising 4 drops players in as they infiltrate a military base with the assistance of Vick Chu, one of Frank’s students, with the hope to break a major story. After figuring out that there is something mistrusting going on in Willamette Colorado, Frank West urges only to get the pictures, break the story, and look past it all. On the other hand, Vick feels bad leaving the facility without helping victims that might soon become zombies.
Frank’s foray into the military base has consequences, and after a string of unforeseen incidents he finds himself deep in a zombie outbreak once again. Dead Rising 4 has a sense of the familiar, but it provides new characters and interesting quests. Despite Frank’s personality shift, the story is easily one of the best aspects.
What is worth noting, is the execution of Frank’s trusty camera. The camera works very well as it comes with new innovations this time around. Besides the base camera mode, players also have a night vision mode and spectrum analyzer to utilize.
These new additions help make the mission design more interesting as players can switch between camera modes while investigating cases. Dead Rising 4 takes all the story elements from past games and spices it up with new mission designs and the result is one that works well.
A Christmas Miracle
Dead Rising 4 takes place in the Willamette Mall, the place that kicked off the whole series. Different than how it was depicted in the original Dead Rising, the events in this new chapter are set on Black Friday, which means players can expect a heavy Christmas theme within the entire game. Dead Rising 4 really plays up the holiday motif as it extends not only to the mall decorations, but the weapons, menu music, and much more.
Weapons like a crossbow that shoots out candy cane fireworks are just some of the fun Dead Rising 4 offers. In the tradition of the franchise, the game constantly cooks up clever ways for players to kill the undead. It also helps that Dead Rising 4 doesn’t fall short of constantly giving players hundreds of unique weapons to keep the base gameplay feeling fresh.
To put it simply, the weapon designs are as creative as can be. Between a launcher that shoots out exploding ornaments to a large mech Exo suit, Dead Rising 4 doesn’t fail to keep players entertained with a wide approach to killing zombies. Compared to Dead Rising 3, the weapons in Dead Rising 4 have improved and most definitely prove themselves worthy.
With tons of blueprints to find, players can feel a sense of fulfillment as they explore the sandbox of Willamette. Ultimately, the weapon blueprints really encourage exploration within the mall when players aren’t on a case or zombie killing spree.
Lack of Challenge
The Difficulty was always a key factor within the Dead Rising games. Elements such as dying because of not being able to hold snacks during a boss battle were hallmarks of the franchise. In the case of Dead Rising 4, the game is extremely easy to the point where it’s a concern. In long stretches of gameplay, players may only find themselves dying a handful of times without the need to restart their entire game. The unique challenge the franchise has always been known for is gone, and the result is a sometimes hollow experience.
Dead Rising has always provided boss battles which were creepy, creative, hard, and sometimes funny. Such things are omitted in Dead Rising 4 which results in a loss of personality. In place of creative battles are bosses which are boring and tend to be easy to fight. It’s unfortunate that Dead Rising 4 has failed in regard to the bosses since it was often a highlight for fans of the series.
Making Changes for the Worse
Dead Rising 4 removes one longtime franchise trademark: the case timer. Present since the first Dead Rising, there was a sense of urgency as players only had 72 in-game hours to complete cases and uncover the mystery of Willamette.
Dead Rising’s original time mechanic was truly dynamic. Besides basic time management, the timer made players question if rescuing a survivor was worth it or not. Removing this time limit in Dead Rising 4 makes the game feel different, but it’s for the worse. While a lack of a mission timer allows more exploration, it doesn’t feel like a true Dead Rising experience.
A Worthy Holiday Pick-Up?
Dead Rising 4 is the most innovative entry in the series, without a doubt. It’s fun, clever, and can be addicting to those who can look over minor technical flaws. The change in established elements such as the timer and Frank’s voice actor may result in longtime fans becoming disinterested. Overlooking these changes, Dead Rising 4 is a fun hack and slash zombie game with an original Christmas theme twist.